FUW proposes ‘claim entitlement’ system

A new funding formula could overcome the threat of landlords ‘banking’ land to claim future entitlements as the European Commission heads towards adopting 2014 as a reference year for direct payments.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales says adopting a future year as a reference point would be “extremely dangerous” for regions like Wales. It wants farmers in Wales to keep their existing entitlements as the country  moves from an historical system of direct payments to a flat-rate. Its proposed ‘claim entitlement’ system appears complex, with farmers being paid according to
the number of entitlements they hold together with a proportion of their original value and the regional flat-rate, but the union says such a formula has proven to work in Wales. It would be modeled on Tir Mynydd, a scheme for Less Favoured Areas which has operated in Wales for the past decade.

The union’s director of agricultural policy, Dr Nick Fenwick, believes the formula is the right one for Wales. “Over time the value of historical entitlements would reduce to zero and all those with a claim entitlement would be paid according to how much land they declare,’’ he told farmers at the FUW’s autumn conference in Aberystwyth.

Dr Fenwick admitted the proposed alternative wasn’t perfect and that the FUW  would not know if it was the right one until detailed modeling had been done by the Welsh Government. But he added: “The system would certainly mitigate some of the dire consequences of what has been proposed by the Commission,’’ he said.